We don’t often do restaurant reviews on Chocablog, but when Hotel Chocolat open a restaurant where every item on the menu contains cocoa or chocolate in some form, we think it’s worth writing about.
The restaurant in question, Rabot 1745, is located in Borough Market, just around the corner from Hotel Chocolat’s old Rabot Estate café. It replaces the café and shop, and continues to sell a range of cocoa products to local foodies.
As with Hotel Chocolat’s Roast + Conch cafés, chocolate is made from the bean on-site. I love the fact that anyone can walk in from the street and see exactly how chocolate is made. I’ve encountered many European artisan chocolate makers who are so secretive about the process that they wouldn’t dream of letting the public see how they make chocolate, let alone place their conches in the middle of a shop.
That level of openness would be unthinkable for some chocolate makers, and I think it’s fantastic that a British Company is leading the way, both in terms of transparency and simply getting people to ask questions about where chocolate comes from. Hotel Chocolat have managed to retain the magic of chocolate making while cutting through the mystery of what is actually a very simple process, and I hope others follow their lead.
The dining area in Rabot 1745 is upstairs from the shop, and I’m struck by how well thought out the decor is. With lots of natural wood and subtle lighting, it’s both stylish and laid back.
The menu – which is available to view online – is varied and enticing, with something to suit all tastes, but everything has cocoa in some form. The real question is, does the cocoa enhance the dishes, or is it just a gimmick?
I opted to start with the Cacao-Crusted Ticklemore Goat’s Cheese, served with carpaccio, pumpkin purée, seasonal leaves and nib dressing. Not chocolately, but beautifully presented and delicious.
For my main course, I opted for the Cacao Marinated Beef – short horn rib-eye steak with winter vegetables, white chocolate horseradish mash and red wine cacao jus.
The meat was absolutely delicious, if perhaps a little overcooked for my liking. The cacao elements helped lift the flavours, but as with the starter, unless you’re looking for them, you might not notice. The mash was sweet and creamy, although being spread out on the plate, didn’t stay warm very long. Not that it lasted very long anyway.
My friend opted for the shoulder of lamb with cacao balsamic, which was sweet and tender and went down equally well.
For dessert, I opted for the most indulgent and chocolatey option on the menu – the “Mousse Collection”. Consisting of three mousses, each made from a different chocolate; a St Lucian 50% with sea salt, Vietnam 80% with kirsch-soaked cherries and 90% Ecuador with toasted almonds. The St Lucia mousse was the hands down winner for me, followed by the Ecuador.
I thoroughly enjoyed the food, atmosphere and whole experience of Rabot 1745 and will certainly be back. But most of all, I love Hotel Chocolat’s experimental and innovative approach to presenting real chocolate in new and exciting ways. Whether you’re a hardcore chocolate lover or just someone who loves great food, I highly recommend a visit.
2-4 Bedale Street